One this show, I interview veteran real estate investor, mentor, coach, and motivational speaker, Bob Rometo as we discuss the mentality of a real estate investor. Bob has an incredible knack for helping real estate investors ‘keep their head straight’ to not allow themselves to get in their own way towards a successful business. Watch our FlipNerd.com interview with Bob Rometo now!
Mike: Welcome to the FlipNerd.com podcast. This is your host, Mike Hambright and on this show, I will introduce you to VIPs in the real estate investing industry, as well as other interesting entrepreneurs, whose stories and experiences can help you take your business to the next level. We have three new shows each week, which are available in the iTunes store, or by visiting FlipNerd.com. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Hey, this is Mike Hambright and thanks for joining for an exciting episode of FlipNerd’s VIP show today. We’re honored to have guest Bob Rometo with us today. He’s a veteran real estate investor, a mentor and coach. But Bob’s most unique and exciting attribute and not that there’s not a lot of great things about him, is that he thinks a lot about and teaches a lot about the mental side of being a successful real estate investor. And really, the mental side of being a successful real estate entrepreneur and just overall entrepreneur.
So, before we start today’s show and before I introduce Bob, I’d like to take a moment and recognize our featured sponsors.
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So, hey Bob. Thanks for joining us today. It’s exciting to see you again. Actually, I saw you just a few days ago, not everybody will know that. But it’s always great to see you, so welcome to the show.
Bob: Hey, Mike, it’s great to be here. I appreciate the opportunity to spend some time with you again.
Mike: Sure. And today, I wanted you to join us on the show. For those that don’t know, Bob’s a good friend of mine. And we’ve really just become friends over the last year or two and gotten to know each other a little bit better.
But one of the things that I’ve always appreciated about Bob, when I’ve known him, is most real estate investors are very transactional. They’re very feast or famine-oriented. They don’t really think about tomorrow and they’re just kind of getting by day to day. But with Bob, you tend to think a lot about the things that you can’t touch and feel, which are really the head games that you play with yourself.
And the fact that most people that aren’t successful are possibly not successful because of what they’re doing to themselves, whether it’s subconsciously or consciously. But, Bob, why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself before we get into some of the meat of what we’re going to talk about today.
Bob: Sure. I’m down here in southwest Florida. It’s a little warmer here today, although it’s gotten a little chilly. But a little warmer than it was in Dallas last week, so I’m happy to be back in the sunshine in the little warmer weather.
My background is really kind of interesting. I went to college in Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon University. Kind of got the entrepreneurial bug when I was there and got a securities license, insurance license and really lived in kind of the financial planning early on and was an entrepreneur from the day I graduated. Actually, before the day I graduated. My senior year, I was already in the business making money.
And got kind of pulled into the real estate industry, but from a different place in the resort development side of the business. That was back in the ’80s, I’m dating myself now. But back in the mid-’80s, it was really driven a lot by tax incentives. And then we had the Tax Reform Act in ’86 and it brought that business to a screeching halt.
And shortly thereafter, I got into the personal development business and training business because I really needed to, mentally, after what I went through. So, you take a big hit and you start looking for answers and what makes life work, what makes things work. And got involved and worked with Tony Robbins for about five years.
And I think that’s probably was the impetus of me really starting to look at how we actually get into our own ways in business. And if you look at the real estate investing industry, it’s not that complicated of an industry. Most investments aren’t that complex. I live by a simple motto:
“Buy low, sell high.” And try not to get caught up in the hype. To try to keep a very even keel about the business and about what we do. And to really have an understanding, a big-picture look at what this industry is for a real estate investor who’s trying to buy, fix and sell, buy and hold or buy in wholesale to somebody else.
And if you keep sight of the big picture and have an understanding of what the business really consists of, you can avoid a lot of pain and struggle.
Mike: Sure. I wanted to know a little bit more before you go too much further, about your experience with Tony Robbins. Can you tell us a little about that? And I’m curious, too. In terms of motivational people, I’ve always had a lot of respect for Tony Robbins and what he says and I own several books and tapes.
But how much, as it relates to real estate, how much hype is the motivational guru business? And I assume Tony Robbins, in terms of ethics, probably one of the more ethical ones, for sure. But I’m just curious there.
Bob: Yeah. And it’s interesting because I lived in the personal development industry, but I also lived in the real estate training industry for a while as well. And worked with and for some of the guys that are out there in the seminar circuit.
And Tony, probably more than anybody out there, really walks his talk. I was with him at a very early time in his career, you’re talking late ’80s. So, a long time ago. And he’s grown, I look at his transformation even, from then until today. And back then, he was driven a lot by ego, as we all are early on. Not that that’s a bad thing because it’s what gets you out and gets you going every morning.
I think where Tony has shifted is probably, today, he’s become a lot more, even at a personal level, he’s less driven by ego and more by just pure making a difference. He’s shifted in some ways like that. But he’s always walked his talk, at a fanatic pace, almost. And I think that’s why he’s had the major success he has. Nobody has worked harder than him, I don’t think, in that industry.
Mike: Yeah. And I can see just knowing you now, there’s so much, really of everything. But in real estate investing, there’s so many people that very early on, when they’re trying to get started, convince themselves that “This doesn’t work” or “I can’t do this” or “This isn’t for me.” After a period of believing that they can do it without any doubt.
So, it’s a really interesting training ground for what you’re doing today.
Bob: Yeah, I worked in the real estate seminar business with various groups. There’s probably two or three major training companies that really do the back-end fulfillment for all of the gurus that you see out there. It’s an interesting industry.
And they teach good things in their events. They teach strategies and systems that work. And again, like I said, there’s nobody inventing new ways to do this business, you know what I mean? It’s a pretty clear, concise model of how to be successful in real estate investing.
And I think the difference is, where I had problems with that industry, is they’ll teach you things. But it’s almost on an intentional basis, they’ll weave in something that will kill any business, which is doubt. So, you go get these great strategies and learn these things, but throughout the program, there’s this little seed of doubt that’s planted.
And it’s by design, quite honestly, because they want you to buy the next, more expensive program. Because if you do that one, then the doubt will go away. Or then you need the six-month mentoring program that costs
$50,000. And if you do that one, then the doubt will go away.
And the reality is, they don’t deliver the one thing that they have to deliver to somebody to be successful and that’s certainty. And we’re good enough on our own at creating doubt. And by design, not even by design, but the nature of this business is one that lends itself to having you think “My God, this doesn’t work,” just because of the numbers.
Mike, we have numbers that we look at constantly. And our numbers are, for every 100 raw leads that we generate, there are probably five or six deals in there. Now, when you think about that, if you were a Major League Baseball player and you only got five or six hits out of 100, your career would be over pretty quick.
But in our industry, you’re in the hall of fame if you do that. You can create a very substantial, significant living with those kind of numbers.
Mike: It’s interesting, even for me and guys like us that are veteran real estate investors. I usually buy several houses a month. I have months where I go through doubt, even though I’ve been doing this for, going on six years. I know what works and what doesn’t work.
But there’s periods where I have doubts. So, it’s impossible not to have those as a brand-new person.
Bob: Sure. And I always feel like my job as a coach or a mentor with the people that I work with, is getting them through the system and through the process long enough, that they see the numbers and they see that it works. Because those 100 raw leads; I say there’s five or six deals in there. Never know where they’re going to come.
It’d be nice if it came every one out of 20. But those five deals might show up at lead number 93, 94, 95. And if you didn’t get that far and if you packed it in after the first 15 leads, you never see the deals. And that happens to a lot of people.
So, it’s our own head and our own, kind of, missing the big picture of the business that gets in our way.
Mike: Yeah. I have a lot of background, before I did this, in retail. Where sales are usually up or down 2, 3 percent every day, pretty stable businesses. In our business, it’s just a dramatic roller coaster. Even if you’re a high-volume person. There’s weeks and certainly days when you’re not buying or selling anything.
And it’s one of those things where getting one extra deal, hustling a little bit harder, getting an extra deal here and there, even a few a year, totally changes the dynamic of somebody’s definition of success. And it’s just a matter of is somebody willing to do what it takes to make that happen?
It’s kind of like going to the gym where you seem like if you haven’t been for a while and you start going, you don’t see any results for maybe a long period of time. And you have the kind of stick-to-it-ness to wait around for that happen.
Bob: Yeah, it’s interesting to use that analogy, Mike. Because when you do go to the gym and you haven’t been there a long time. Those first couple of days, you definitely feel the pain and the soreness, but you might not see the result. And it’s kind of like that in this business.
There’s an analogy I like to use. When people get into this business, they’re usually coming from another career. Where maybe they haven’t been able to achieve the financial success that they would have liked to achieve. So, they go to a seminar or an event and they hear people telling them they can make a million dollars a year and they don’t have to spend any money. You don’t need cash, or whatever they’re being told.
But those people show up at those events with a certain capacity in their life to receive whatever it is. Money, success. And so, let’s say somebody came into that event and they’d been making $60,000 a year for the last ten years of their life. And now, all of a sudden, they’re going to step into a vehicle that potentially could generate $1 million a year in income, because it can.
But if they’re capacity is at $60,000, it doesn’t matter what the potential is, unless they alter who they are. And that’s where I coach people in. How do you change who you are and what your capacity is to receive what’s available in this vehicle?
You have to expand. It’s like trying to pour a two-liter bottle into a 16-ounce glass. It’s just not going to fit and in fact, it will create a mess, right? If you try and do that. So, my work is really about supporting people in expanding their capacity to take advantage of what’s available in this industry. And quite honestly, the way you expand that capacity is go to work.
It’s to put in the effort. It’s the old analogy of building a skyscraper. You dig that foundation for a long time before you see anything come up out of the ground. And it’s like that in this industry and this business. You’ve got to put in the effort. It just doesn’t happen overnight.
You just don’t show up just because you went to a real estate investment seminar and went to a couple of meetings and all of a sudden, make the kind of money that you can make in this business.
Mike: Right. So, Bob, I also know you as very much as somebody that believes in karma, a spiritual side of this and it’s really very much intertwined with your ability to be successful, your ability to impact others. I want to know how you integrate that in with what you do. But also, how that came about. Was there something in your life to kind of flip a switch and direct everything you do more in that way?
Bob: Absolutely, Mike. First of all, you really can’t compartmentalize your life and your business. I don’t care what anybody tells you, everything is connected. So, I went through, when I was young, in the investment business, I went through tax reform hit in 1986 and I lost everything.
I went through another bout of that maybe nine, ten years ago. And took a huge hit and lost everything. Now, you think I might have been smart enough to start looking after the first time, but I’m a slow learner. It took me two major events like that in my life before I started to really look at and investigate.
Because clearly, I was missing something. I had an ability to generate all kinds of income. I just didn’t have a real great ability to hang onto it. And so, there was some disconnect. And really, when I started to study various disciplines around spirituality, cause and effect. Really, how the universe works, universal law.
I always say there’s physical laws of the universe and metaphysical laws of the universe. And the physical law is like gravity. If you walk off of a 15-story building, you’re going to hit the ground, whether you believe in gravity or not. And there’s metaphysical laws, too. That you don’t have to believe in them, but you’re still subject to them whether you do or not.
And I was unaware those first 25 years of my career and took two big hits financially. Until I started to learn and understand some things that I coach and teach about. And really, we live in a world of cause and effect and it’s very directly linked. But there’s a delay between cause and effect. And it sometimes has things look random and chaotic. But the universe operates in perfect order.
So, I always share with people, in that business that we have, Mike, where we generate those 100 leads. And five or six are deals. The real power is in how do we handle those other 94 or 95 leads? Are we there to really make a difference and try and serve those people? Or are we frustrated because it’s a deal we can’t buy?
If we’re frustrated because it’s a deal we can’t buy, then our focus is completely on ourselves and what we can get. That’s a not real powerful place to be. If our focus is “How can I help this person who obviously has some need and some pain because they called me, how can I somehow make a difference for them and move them in a direction they need to go?” Whether I can do business with them or not, I can add value, I can make a difference for them.
And that’s when I talk about expanding our capacity to receive. It’s by taking those kind of actions. So, I can get as excited about a call that I get from somebody who I know I can’t purchase their home from them, I can’t make a deal that makes sense for me. I’m as excited about that one as one that I’m clear I can go by.
Because of the opportunity it affords me to expand my capacity. So, that doesn’t sound real logical in a lot of cases. And I always share with people “Look, I’m not about having a predictable business. I’m about a miraculous business. I want to create miracles in my business and in my life.”
And the way to do that is to take some illogical action. Miracles and logic don’t coexist. They’re two completely different things. There’s nothing logical about a miracle. And so, it’s something I’ve learned over the years, it’s something I try and encourage and coach to people to do. Is to really look and see “How can I make a difference all the time with somebody that I’m dealing with? Whether or not it looks like there’s something in it for me or not.”
Cause and effect is always in play. And all there is to do every day is plant good seeds. And if you plant good seeds, they’re going to manifest, ultimately.
Mike: Yeah. This is such an unpredictable business anyway, as a real estate investor. So, your attitude, you’ve got to go into every house. Really, I’ve heard actually what you’ve said just last week when we were together talking to a group. And I’m not sure, I’ve said it a totally different way the other way.
But you either have to go into each appointment saying “I have the opportunity to buy this house.” Or “I have the opportunity to make a difference in this person’s life.” Or go into it saying “There’s a pretty good chance that I’m not going to be able to buy this house today. But I’m going to go in here, I’m going to be a good person. I’m going to do my best to help this person understand their situation and give them my time.”
And once in while, something is going to come around. But I think you’ve got to have some positive attitude however you look at it. Because if you go into every one swinging for the fences and leave being discouraged like you said. 85 percent of the time or more, you leave being discouraged, it’ll get you down real quick.
Bob: For sure. And it’s very interesting, Mike, because I’m a firm believer in that this is where that certainty comes in. It’s not like something good might come out of it. If I go in and do the right thing, something good is going to come out of it. I just don’t know when, where or how, but I know it will.
Because that’s that universal law, metaphysical law that we’re subject to, even though we can’t see it. So, for me, Mike, the business is not really about buying and selling houses. I’m clear that what my life is about is making a difference for people. So, investing business for me, real estate investment; it gives me that opportunity to make a difference.
And it’s quite interesting because it gives me the opportunity to make it a difference with somebody who’s really in some distress, typically. And I like that. I like being the kind of person who can come in and solve some problems. And sometimes, the biggest gift we can give somebody when we’re sitting down talking to them. And they’ve called us because they’re in some type of distress.
Either their home is in distress, their life is in some kind of distress. Something’s going on that had them pick up the phone and call us to make a move with, probably, the most valuable asset in their life.
And for me, it’s a real gift to be able to try and support somebody in some way and make a difference for them. For me, it’s a great vehicle. I love having that opportunity with people.
Mike: Great. Let’s talk a little bit about, I know you’re one of the founding members, founding franchisees of HomeVestors, the We Buy Ugly Houses folks. And you started with someone that is obviously an absolute legend. Unfortunately, I’m also part of the same franchise system.
I didn’t get to know Ken because we didn’t join until after he had passed. But tell us a little bit about those, kind of, early days, in the We Buy Ugly Houses system?
Bob: Sure. I was actually around; I had the very good fortune of meeting Ken D’Angelo, I believe late ’94. I was working, really, from a different side of the business. I was buying loans for an individual who had money that he had raised to buy first lien residential mortgages.
And I ran an ad in the Wall Street Journal and somebody pointed me in the direction of this guy in Dallas, Texas, who was doing owner finance notes. And so, I flew to Dallas and met Ken.
And it really altered my reality because I didn’t think you could buy houses at that deep a discount consistently. And I saw this inventory board he had and it was about 35 houses on the board, Mike. And I’m looking at it thinking “Wow, it must have taken him six, seven years to accumulate that many houses.” And he said “No, that’s a month and a half.”
He was doing about 20, 25 houses a month at the time. Which really altered my reality, I didn’t think it was possible. And I remember asking him about the logistics and I said “Is Dallas some unique market or will this work anywhere.” And he said “Look, Bob. People are people and houses are houses. It doesn’t matter where, the numbers are just different.”
And so, I kind of encouraged Ken to explore the idea of franchising. And after I told him I could put the money together from the investment side to launch it, he was very interested. And ultimately, HomeVestors ultimately became a franchise in 1996.
In the meantime, in ’95, I moved to Kansas City to kind of be a prototype office before the franchise officially launched. And why Kansas City, I have no idea. It was close to Dallas. I was so naive at the time.
I always tell this story, Ken said “Why don’t you come to Dallas and I’ll teach you the business here.” And I was like “Well, I don’t know if Dallas is big enough for the two of us.” Meanwhile, I don’t know how many thousands of houses are bought every year in Dallas, you know?
So, I wound up in Kansas City. And I’ll never forget, Mike, you talk about that fear and doubt that can creep in. The first week I got there, I made some calls and I called the top realtor in Kansas City.
And I remember telling her about my business. And I said “This is what we do and this is how we do it” and I was all excited and enthusiastic. And she looked me and she said “You know, that will never work here. That might work in Dallas, Texas, but it will never work in Kansas City.”
And immediately, panic set in. I got on the phone and I called Ken and I was freaked out. I said “Ken, so and so from RE/MAX, she said this will never work here. It will work in Dallas, but not Kansas City.” And there was this pause and then this laughter on the other end of the line. He said “Bob, I’ll be there in three days. Just keep doing what I told you to do.”
So, I did. And Ken flew in. And two days after he was there, we bought my first house. And everything changed, then. And then, some 350 houses later, six years later, the RE/MAX agent was wrong and we were right.
It’s been that way all over the country. And I’ll never forget. What I realized was what I didn’t have when I first showed up in Kansas City, was certainty. And that’s the power of having a powerful coach and mentor in your life. Because when you don’t have certainty, the thing to do is borrow someone else’s. And that’s what I did.
But once those first deals fall. Once you see it happen in your backyard and you’re the one making the offer and somebody is saying “Yes,”
everything changes. Ken was a very special guy. He really taught me the business and really, just to do the right thing. To always find the solution for somebody and just do the right thing.
Mike: So, Ken is, obviously, in the HomeVestors system, very much a legend. But growing up, I grew up in northern Illinois. And I had a family member that had a friend that was buying and I think he was pretty much seller-financing houses or keeping rentals. All while I was growing up and he had a fairly large portfolio.
But it seems in many ways like Ken D’Angelo helped cement kind of an industry and formulated. In many ways, today, HomeVestors still advertises for the industry and obviously tries to create some legitimacy around real estate investing.
But how do you feel about those early days? Do you feel like it was almost kind of the birth of an industry in terms of taking this out of just individual people and markets here and there that were doing this?
Bob: Yeah, I think very much so. When I think back, it was really an industry that was always there, but it was hidden. It was almost like it was a secret that nobody wanted anybody else to know about because of how profitable it could be.
And that’s the thing about Ken D’Angelo that I so appreciate. Because it was really his willingness to share. What he knew, what he learned. And he was always so open about everything, Mike.
If he had a great idea, he would tell the janitor in the building. Anybody that would listen, you know? There was no scarcity at all around this guy. And because of that, we have over 400 and some franchises in the system today and growing at a rapid pace.
And if you look on HGTV, look at all the television shows that you see, you know? It really, I think Ken has had a massive impact with creating visibility around an industry that was invisible. And also, the legitimacy of the fact that we’re a franchise; we’re the only franchise out there in the industry held to the standards that we’re held to in the way we operate.
I’m very fortunate and blessed to be able to say I was there at the very beginning. In fact, at our development agent training, Ken Chenault mentioned that he went back and looked. I was actually the first one to sign the franchise agreement in the system. So, I was, I guess, number 0-0-
1 overall in the system and back today. It’s been fun.
Mike: That’s great. Well, can you tell us just a little bit about what you think it takes to be successful as a real estate investor? We talked about some of the emotional side of it, today. But it’s a tough business, it’s a hustle business. Do you want to just share a little bit about what you think it takes to be successful?
Bob: Yeah. Obviously, you have to have the big-picture view. I always talk about managing expectations, you know? When we’re with a seller, one of the key things is we have to have rapport, we have to manage their expectation and we have to be able to make sense.
Well, probably the most important person’s expectation you have to manage in this business is your own. Because of the nature of the beast. Because of that five out of 100 scenario that you can be a superstar with, your expectations, you have to manage your own just to be able to deal with wherever those deals are and to get through it.
I think you have to have a certain level of detachment. You can’t show up at an appointment in need of anything. Because if you need something again, your focus is on yourself. If you can shift your focus to
“How do I serve this person in front of me?” Then, it kind of pushes away that neediness that you have. And you’re just there to do the right thing and see if something makes sense.
Our numbers tell us over the years, five, six out of 100 will make sense and that’s great. It’s all you need. So, I think you have to like people. You have to be willing to interact and engage with people; that’s the nature of our business. Unless you’re just buying stuff at the courthouse steps.
And even then, once you do it, you’ve still got to to interact and engage with people. Your contractors, your realtors that you’re working with, whatever it is. So, you have to enjoy being with people and working with people.
You have to be willing to work on yourself and develop not only your own skills and grow personally as a person, human being. But you have to develop your skills in the industry. You have to learn how to manage people. How to effectively identify repairs when you’re walking into a house.
You have to always keep sharpening the axe. Stay abreast of what’s going on. Continue to educate yourself. “What’s happening in my marketplace today? Are we on an upward trend, are things flattening out? Are we in a down trend? How do I need to adjust my business?”
You can’t sit back and wait in this business. We work in a model where we do a lot of advertising. And one of the big drawbacks of that is people tend to sit back and wait instead of being proactive.
This is a business that you requires you to be proactive. I don’t care whether you’re spending $500 a month in advertising or $50,000 a month in advertising, you still have to go be proactive. Because it’s that proactivity, again, that expands your capacity. It’s sending out a message to the universe that “Hey, I’m ready, willing and able to receive whatever you want to give me.” And if you’re sitting back waiting, then you’re sending a different message.
So, those are the kind of things, that stick-to-it-ness that says
“I’m going to make this work. I know it works. I see other people making it work. I’m going to make it work. And I’m going to put in the energy, effort and time that it takes to get to where I want to get to.”
So, I know those are more big-picture. I could sit here and say you have to learn how to do A, B, C and D. I’ll never forget, my father taught me a long time ago. He said “Look, you don’t have to be a great plumber. You don’t have to know electrical work. You don’t have to know hot to put a roof on. But you sure better know how to identify the right person to do those things.”
I still find myself curious about those things. I’ve been blessed. I did about 350 houses when we were in Kansas City over a five or six-year period. And I had the same plumber, the same heating and cooling guy, the same roofer, the same electrician for those five years.
It took me about six months to identify them and find them. But once I found them, I kept them. And that can save a lot of time, energy and aggravation, believe me.
Mike: Absolutely. I know that, yeah. So, great. Bob, do you want to share anything at all? I know you have some ongoing work about motivating, now you’re working on some books. Anything you want to share about some of the things that are coming up for you in 2014?
Bob: Yeah. I have a couple of things, a couple of books that will roll out. The first one is going to be an interesting one. As I said, I’m a big proponent of not having a good business or a predictable business, but a miraculous business.
So, there’s a book that I’m writing. The working title is “Miracles Aren’t Logical, So Why Should You Be?” That’s kind of the first one and another book that really, is a more a look at my experience in life that’s called “Can I Really Buy a Miracle?”
And you can see that theme of miracles runs deep in the things that I do, Mike. And also, I’ll probably be taking–
Mike: That’s why I hang out with you, Bob.
Bob: There you go, that’s it. But I’ll be doing ongoing coaching, things like that. I’m going to roll that program out probably second quarter of this year. I’ll be taking on some more clients who are serious and committed about not only becoming successful in their business as investors, but really, who want to be coached more in, again, in their business and in their life. Because you can’t really separate them.
And we’ll have more information, I’m sure, that you’ll be able to pop it out there for me at some point.
Mike: Absolutely. We’ll have some links below the video for how to get a hold of you. And keep people posted on any of these updates that are coming up, books and things like that.
Bob: I appreciate it.
Mike: Great, Bob. Well, hey, thanks so much for joining us, today. Good to talk to you as always.
Bob: It’s good seeing you, Mike. You take care and thanks for the opportunity.
Mike: Have a great holiday season. And Christmas is coming up here in just a few days and then we’ve got New Year’s right around the corner. So, I’m sure we’ll be talking to you again soon and I appreciate you joining us today.
Bob: Thank you, Mike. Thanks for the opportunity. Have a great holiday season and make it a great 2014.
Mike: You too, Bob. Thanks, take care.
Mike: Thanks for joining us today on today’s FlipNerd.com podcast. To listen to more of our shows and hear from incredible guests, please access all of our podcasts in the iTunes store. You can also watch the video versions of our shows by visiting us at FlipNerd.com.